On This Day: The Invasion of Poland

On September 1, 1939, Hitler commanded German forces to invade Poland, effectively starting World War II. It was this invasion that prompted Britain and France to declare war and realize that Hitler’s plan involved the domination of Europe. This war lead to the death of approximately 70 million soldiers and civilians, including 6 million Jewish citizens who were killed in concentration camps.

When Hitler first came to power, he campaigned under the auspices of returning Germany to its pre-WWI glory. He wanted to reclaim land and power that he believed was taken from Germany during the war. In response to his demands, British and French officials allowed Germany to rebuild its military and annex Austria. The last effort at appeasement was the Munich Agreement, which allowed Germany to occupy an area of Czechoslovakia so long as they promised to resolve any future conflicts peacefully.

On September 1, 1939, Hitler broke the agreements of the Munich Agreement by invading Poland. German forces used the blitzkrieg strategy, which involved the strategic bombing of sites such as railroads, communication lines, and ammunition storage. Invasion by troops on foot and in tanks followed. Once the troops had moved through, German security forces rounded up anyone who Hitler saw as an enemy of the state, generally those who he deemed racially or religiously inferior, and used them as slave laborers.

Poland’s outdated army stood little chance against the Germans especially when the Soviet Union attacked from the opposite border just a few weeks later in accordance with a plan set by Hitler and Stalin. On September 3, 1939, Britain and France declared war against Germany. Six years of brutal, world-wide war followed during which the world witnessed the pitfalls of hate and revenge.

Learn more here:

  1. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/germany-invades-poland
  2. https://www.britannica.com/event/Invasion-of-Poland
  3. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/invasion-of-poland-fall-1939